Ferol Mennen

Associate Professor
Contact Information
University Park
Department of Study 
Children, Youth and Families
Research Interest 
Children & Families
Mental Health
PhD, Tulane University, 1987
MSW, Tulane University, 1973
BS, Purdue University, 1966

FEROL MENNEN joined the USC faculty in 1988 after teaching at Southern University at New Orleans and practicing in mental health for 12 years. Specializing in children's mental health issues, she has worked in a residential treatment center, the outpatient adolescent unit of a psychiatric hospital, as an outpatient coordinator for inner-city community mental health crime, and in private practice. She continues to practice clinical social work privately on a sliding-scale and limited basis in Montrose.

Her primary research focuses on child abuse and neglect, mental health services to those children, and post-traumatic stress disorders in children, particularly in reaction to various forms of abuse. In addition, her interests include children's mental health issues; the provision of services to hard to reach, disadvantaged populations; social work education; and depression. She is co-principal investigator for "The Impact of Neglect on Adolescent Development." The majority of her publications focus on the effects of abuse in children and the treatment of women sexually abused in childhood.

Dr. Mennen teaches first year and mental health practice in the masters program, as well as adult learning theory in the doctoral program.

Dr. Ferol Mennen, a specialist in child mental health issues, believes there is a problem with child maltreatment research today: it frequently views one type of abuse as isolated from the rest. As part of a lengthy longitudinal study, Mennen has shown that maltreated children tend to experience more than one kind of abuse. Equipped with this newfound knowledge, Mennen has sought to reconceptualize the social work profession’s understanding of child maltreatment in a way that allows researchers and practitioners to classify different types of abuse and understand their overlapping effects.

A firm believer in social justice and equality, Mennen’s interest in social work dates back to her days as an activist during the Vietnam War. While she had planned to be a community organizer, an early experience as a counselor proved so rewarding that she went into direct practice and mental health. She honed her skills at a residential treatment center, an outpatient adolescent unit in a psychiatric hospital, and as an outpatient coordinator for inner-city community mental health. During her clinical work, she discovered that a number of her clients had been victims of sexual abuse, then thought to be a rare occurrence. Her interest in researching the issue grew, and she moved away from practice and earned a doctorate at Tulane University.

After a stint teaching at Southern University, Mennen joined the faculty of the USC School of Social Work, where she began pursuing her interest in childhood sexual abuse research. Her early studies examined the varying impact of sexual abuse on mental health symptoms in girls of different ethnic and racial groups. More recently, Mennen has helped evaluate an intervention project for infants in the child welfare system—an opportunity to reorient her work toward a younger population. She is also interested in exploring the extent to which maternal depression, a risk factor for child maltreatment, impedes the therapeutic progress of children and plans to test an intervention designed to improve their response to therapy.

While Mennen has focused her career on research, she never completely left practice and continues her clinical social work. She also embeds practice components in courses she teaches on child abuse and neglect, mental health, and adult learning theory. With colleague Dr. Penelope Trickett, Mennen is helping develop a research core on child development and children’s services, an effort to both involve more students in research and integrate her studies into the curriculum. She enjoys working closely with graduate and doctoral students interested in child well-being, and provides access to her rich trove of data from decades of fieldwork.

Selected Publications

Mennen, F.E. & Trickett, P.K. (2011). Parenting Attitudes, Family Environments, Depression, and Anxiety in Caregivers of Maltreated Children.Family Relations, 60(3), 259-271.

Mennen, F.E., Kim, K., Sang, J. & Trickett, P.K. (2010). Child neglect: Definition and identification of youth's experiences in official reports of maltreatment. Child Abuse and Neglect, 34(9), 647-658.

Mennen, F.E., Brensilver, M. & Trickett, P.K. (2010). Do maltreated children who remain at home function better than those who are placed. Children and Youth Services Review, 32(12), 1675-1682.

Tricket, P.K., Mennen, F.E., Kim, K. & Sang, J. (2009). Emotional abuse in a sample of multiply-maltreated, urban young adolescents: Issues of definition and identification. Child Abuse and Neglect, 33(1), 27-35.

Aisenberg, E., Trickett, P.K., Mennen, F.E., Saltzman, W. & Zaya, L.H. (2007). Maternal depression and adolescent behavior problems: An examination of mediation among immigrant Latino mothers and their adolescent children. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 22(10), 1227-1249.

Mennen, F.E. & Trickett, P.K. (2007). Mental health services to urban minority children. Children and Youth Services Review, 29, 1220-1234.

Aisenberg, E., Garcia, A., Ayon, C., Trickett, P.K. & Mennen, F.E. (2007). The Co-Occurrence of Community Violence and Child Maltreatment Among Racially Diverse Adolescents: Assessing Risk for Mental Health and Behavior Problems. Protecting Children, 22(3 & 4), 20-31.

O'Keefe, M. & Mennen, F.E. (2006). A shorter version of the YSR. Research on Social Work Practice, 16, 315-325.

Mennen, F.E. & O'Keefe, M. (2005). Informed decisions in child welfare: The use of attachment theory. Children and Youth Services Review, 27(6), 577-593.

Mennen, F.E. (2004). PTSD symptoms in abused Latino children. Child and Adolescent Social Work, 21(5), 477-493.

Nissly, J. & Mennen, F.E. (2002). Intervening in Response to Job Stress: Highlights and Recommendations from the Research Literature. Employee Assistance Quarterly, 17(4), 15-30.